Kiss Up – Kick Down


In my business and academic career one of the clear lessons I learned is that ineffective leadership is often characterized by kiss up, kick down. This simply means that poor leaders tend to suck up to their bosses or those they admire in high positions and treat those below them with disdain and derision. Many of us have experienced this behavior expressed in power differentials sometime in our careers. It is distasteful and downright despicable. The sooner those in positions of power who practice this are removed from their position the better off their organization becomes.


As a retired corporate executive, management professor and academic administrator I have seen this phenomenon many times over the years. But, until the past two years I had not seen it in the top elected position in our country.


We have seen Mr. Trump kiss up to Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. And now we see him attacking four freshman congresswomen in the House of Representatives. The power differential between the Presidency and a first term congressperson is evident. There was a day when policy differences could be discussed without resorting to personal attacks and character assassination. One thing most of us have agreed upon, both right and left, is the unequivocally American statement "I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Can the damage done by this president be repaired or is this just now the norm?


Sam Gould, PhD

July, 2019